Here are some tips for first-time dog owners!

Dogs make fantastic buddies and with the right introductions, will become part of your family in no time. Bringing a four-legged friend home for the first time can be super exciting, but it’s not all belly rubs and tasty treats. It’s your responsibility to ensure your new dog is healthy, happy, and well taken care of! Being a dog owner is a learning experience, and you’ll face countless questions in the weeks, months, and even years ahead. We personally have learned so much through dogs and there will be moments of stress and indecision, but with the right kind of help, resource, both you and your pup will be better off together.  

We’ve put together all our best tips to help first-time dog owner.

First things first, stuff you will need before you bring home your new pup:

  • A comfy bed – If your pup is small, choose a bigger one, they grow pretty fast. Don’t forget something that is washable.
  • Food & Water bowl – we recommend stainless steel ones as they are non-porous which discourages bacteria, non-leaching, rust-resistant, and much easier to sanitize, used in dishwashers etc. Stainless steel is exposed to far fewer chemicals than plastic products during the manufacturing process.
  • A lead/leash. We personally found that 6ft leash works best, as it gives our pup room to walk and explore the environment. You can start with 4ft long till you and your pup are comfortable with walking. Handling a leash requires some skills, and your pup may also need time to learn to walk with a leash attached. Remember it isn’t natural for any animal to walk on a leash, it is a learned behavior and needs to be taught. Also stay away from SLIP-LEASH! 
  • A plain-buckle collar with your details on it or a tag. Ditch the manly chain, semi-choke collars, it doesn’t your dog look tough and it can cause injuries sooner or later.
  • A harness – we recommend attaching your dog’s lead/leash to a harness so they don’t experience pressure round the neck if they pull, this is very damaging to dogs and some dogs can even escape their collar. Make sure it’s a harness that allows your puppy to walk and run naturally, as opposed to one that restricts the way they move.
  • Buy the right food – we recommend raw food, as it is a biologically appropriate diet for carnivores like our pups. If raw food isn’t an option, then try something that is as natural as possible. Remember your dog’s health depends on the food they eat. It won’t be cheap, but they deserve a dog food that provides all their nutritional requirements.
  • Puzzle Toys for keeping calm or amused, for example a Kong, or anything that you stuff food, dispense food etc. There are many DIY ones that you can try before sending a lot of money. It is important to keep your pup mentally stimulated.
  • Durable toys that are not made with cheap plastic or any harmful material. Remember that some dogs may not be bothered with toys and that’s okay, one of ours don’t care much when it comes to toys but rather play with his sister or his puzzle food dispenser.
  • Crate: this is not a must but it is always good to train your pup to used to a crate, however, this should be trained gradually, your pup should feel that going into the crate means good things are about to happen and never use the crate to punish your pup. Crates should be a safe and happy space.
  • Pee pads – this is very helpful if your pup isn’t already potty trained. Having a designated potty area will help your new pup to learn and indicate when they want to do their business.

Now let’s look at other stuff you will need to consider

a) Choosing a Dog trainer or a dog behaviorist: Don’t wait till you spot a behavioral problem, start researching for the right trainer even before you bring your pup home. Training sessions are meant for you as much as it is for your dog. It is an investment of time and money. A qualified trainer or a behaviorist will help you decode some of the dog behavior which will help improve your communication with your new pup. We advise you to seek support from a degree or certified trainer who uses only positive reinforcement and force free methods to work with your pup, these trainers will be more than happy to discuss their qualifications with you in detail. There are many unqualified trainers, and it is important to know how to spot them. After all, you won’t leave your kids with an unqualified person, would you?

b) Vet bills – Set aside a small monthly saving for your vet bills, since there aren’t any pet insurance in the UAE and it can be quite costly. We advise you to research the best possible vet in the area, again don’t go cheap. Having a relationship with a reliable veterinarian could literally be a lifesaver for your new dog. There will be moments when you wonder if your dog is acting strangely or you’re not sure the best way to handle a situation. Don’t forget if you are a MyPetBuddy premium member you will have access to our 24/7 vet support line for free as well as 20% off with a local partnered vet in Dubai.

c) Adjusting your schedule – Dogs need exercise, potty breaks, training, and a whole lot of attention. You will need to plan ahead by preparing your dog to be comfortable when left for short periods, we recommend no longer than 3 hours at a time once they are old enough. If you’re planning on taking time off work to welcome your new pup home and settle them in, use that time to start working on getting them into a routine. Going straight from being around them constantly to leaving them alone for several hours straight the next will upset them and can lead to separation anxiety.

d) Respect leash laws – We personally have seen many people walking their dog off-leash going out and about where it isn’t allowed. We guess that a lot of dog owners imagine themselves and their dogs wandering the trails, pathway, parks without the hindrance of a leash getting in the way. It sounds nice, but leash laws exist for a reason. First, there’s the fact not every dog has mastered the difficult skill of off-leash walking, ours certainly don’t, Naji (one of ours) would transform into Flash if he sees another dog. Your dog must come when called 100% of the time, no matter what they see, hear, or smell. It is also unconsidered to let your dog off-leash as some people or dog may not feel comfortable by an off-leash dog approaching. You can save yourself the traumatic experience of losing your dog by always using a leash

You don’t need years of experience to give a dog everything they need in life. We all have to learn; you’ll have questions and make mistakes but making an effort to be the best pet parent you can be is the first step. Always do research, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It isn’t always easy, but being a good dog owner is all about making ethical decisions for the good of your pet and committing yourself to their long-term care. And if you aren’t ready to commit long term , MyPetBuddy community is also designed for people who are thinking of having a dog of their own some day. You can sign up a buddy and become a part-time pet parent to learn and experience having a dog before you commit to being a full time pet parent

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